Posted By : Threeland Travel / Responsible Travel Advice
It is reported that many have expected travel will never turn back as “normal”, since it is impossible to travel in pandemic that makes people value it more. People have noticed, when travel is prohibited, significant changes including cleaner air, wildlife and nature bouncing back, or stronger and more united (than ever) communities at local and global level. People have been increasingly aware that the well-being of human and planet are inseparable and it’s time for revolutionary changes. What is the future for travel and tourism post crisis? Will people accept the new normal life? And as individuals, what can we do to make our travel matter to the environment and local communities if we ever have a chance to travel again? Here come the lessons learnt for travelers from the pandemic so that people can be more mindful and responsible in their future travel.
1. Respect wildlife with a responsible tour operator
It is reported that approximately 70% of deadly zoonotic diseases are human-made, much through activities like wildlife-trade. There is considerable speculation that the source of the current novel corona virus outbreak originated in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. And history has also proved that other deadly diseases such as Ebola in the DR Congo and the Nipah Virus in Malaysia in the late 1900s are liked to wildlife trade. Researchers are also warning that ocean can be a transmitter of diseases. Which means, wildlife trade must end to prevent future zoonotic diseases.
And as a traveler, we can do a small part to contribute to the movement by refusing to dine at restaurants that serve food made from wild animals or to buy souvenirs made from endangered species such as ivory and other mammal or reptile teeth and bones, animal furs and skins, or corals and seashells. Visit this guide on avoiding animal souvenirs for detailed information about what kind of products are made under the form of wildlife exploitation. Besides boycotting the unethical products made from endangered and wild species, we as travelers should respect wildlife by participating in ethical experiences.
Many national parks and natural reserves offer responsible animal experiences by watching wild animals from afar instead of activities that involve animal abuse such as elephant ride, tiger selfies, and animal circus (mostly bears, elephant, dolphins, and sea dogs). So do your part by obeying national park’s rules, watching animal from distance, and saying NO to purchasing souvenirs from animals and floras, participating in unethical animal activities for tourists, dining at restaurants serving wild animal menus. There is nothing wrong with you wanting to explore wildlife, but do it in a responsible way, bring back home nothing but your lifelong memories with local nature.
2. De-carbonize your travel with e-co friendly transportation
The lockdown in many parts of the world has shown us that it’s fine not to travel to far away destinations. The booming trend of international travel has made us realize that we have failed to notice many beautiful places that are much nearer to us.
Traveling alone contributed to around 8% of global CO2 emissions and it makes us think about the way many traveled before. Have we ever noticed about the impacts, or more specifically, the amount of carbon footprint we made when jumping on the planes for short-haul travel? The shutdown taught us that air pollution can actually be solved by limiting travel. Is this the time we need to rethink about our travel style?
Since borders are still closed in many countries, it is undoubtable that domestic travel will bounce back first. So when it’s the right time to travel again, why not exploring the many beautiful parts of your own countries that you have always taken for granted? Why not trying traveling by trains and buses whenever possible to watch the scenery changing from place to place? Why not staying longer in a destination than you usually did to learn more about the local culture and history?
By avoiding airplane, you can actually save huge tons of emissions that could be released to the environment. While in the destination, you might want to walk or cycle if possible, for the best sightseeing experiences while reducing emissions from fossil fuel generated vehicles. As reported by many scientists, air pollution is linked to many human diseases including coronavirus, and that people living in the areas that face severe pollution are much likely to expose to the virus than those living in cleaner air. As a traveler, you have your role in de-carbonization by choosing more eco-friendly transportations and staying longer whenever possible.
3. Protect the environment with a responsible tour operator
We have seen that the environment has become much cleaner due to restricted human activities including traveling. Ocean, rivers, canals, and streets bear much less human waste and nature is bouncing back. This makes us to think about our consumption behaviors before that unwittingly harm the environment. There are plenty of things you can do while traveling that help to leave positive impacts on the environment. Bringing your reusable bottles, refusing plastic bags and food containers, throwing trashes in the right places are among few simplest steps to become a more environmentally aware traveler.
If you pay more attention to your travel’s impact, you might also not want to wrap your luggage at the airport with kilometers of plastic wrap, instead you can protect them with locks and bring precious items with you. Saving energy is also a significant part of protecting the environment. A responsible traveler will be conscious in their usage of water and energy at the hotels. By taking a quicker shower or refusing to have your linens changed daily that you already help to save huge amount of fresh water consumed as well as wastewater released to the environment.
When staying overnight in environmentally sensitive areas like national parks, you should think about bringing your own toiletries and towels as a way to join hand in responsible tourism since many tour operators and accommodation providers in those places do no longer offer towels and one-time used toiletries as their effort to protect the environment.
4. Wash hands regularly
The outbreak of the coronavirus has taught us the importance of practicing personal hygiene from smallest step like disinfecting our hands regularly. As a traveler we are present in many public spaces like airports, planes, tourist shuttles, cruises, hotels, restaurants and cafes, and tourist attractions where accommodate high possibility of transmitting disease from person to person once a virus is active. Though it is impossible to keep your hands bacteria-free all the time, washing your hands and use hand sanitizers more often can help to protect yourself and those around you from being vulnerable to unexpected diseases.
5. Choose responsible service providers
After all considerations and efforts towards more responsible travel, it is by choosing right service providers that are doing good to the environment and local communities that you can mitigate unwanted effects of your travel on the destinations. If you can, be more critical when choosing which hotel to stay or which restaurant to eat, and if you consider doing a package tour, which tour companies that you want to travel with.
More and more travel and hospitality businesses are aware of the impact of their business operations on host destinations thus practicing sustainable policies to maximize positive impacts on local environments and its inhabitants. For travel companies, being committed to sustainability means they only work with responsible suppliers of hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, and the list goes on. Which means, choosing right responsible tour operator will really make a big difference. It is at the end of the day your choice to decide where to stay or eat, or which company to travel with, but it is always a good thing to do when you are accompanied with a responsible business who share the same passion and mission with you in making the destinations a good place for travelers to visit, and a good place for locals to live in.
History has witnessed the resilience of travel and tourism industry through certain human health’s crisis. And with coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that tourism is considered as the industry that leads future recovery. Since tourism is people-centered, we as individuals have our own part to play during our travel to help save the people and planet from grassroots level.
Threeland Travel prides ourselves as one of the leading DMCs based in Vietnam, having steadfast commitment to responsible travel and sustainable tourism. We are engaging with Travelife to be one of the top responsible travel company. We believe that travel can make huge differences to the world and no meaningful experiences and unforgettable memories should compromise the well-being of the environment. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for free advice on travel itineraries and responsible tours in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar!